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How to select new tuning machines?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by flat five, Nov 28, 2004.

  1. flat five

    flat five

    Sep 1, 2004
    I think I need to replace at least one of my tuning pegs. I've looked at what Lemur has but I can't really tell anything from that. If I take my bass to the luthier how should I decide which ones to get? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various brands and types? On my bass, which is an old German flatback, each tuner has a separate plate. Is there a certain brand that is especially recommended? There is a lot of play in one of the pegs that has been driving me crazy lately and it is time to finally do something about it. Thanks for any input!
  2. As you might know machines can be one of the most expensive replacement parts for our instrument. There are many threads out there addressing this....Search.
    Basically, you're dealing with looks, weight, function and price.
    The best looking ones are in the $500 range and more. The best functioning one can be had for alot less.
    Those Irving Sloane machines that Ron Carter endorses seem to be very nice, but look kinda heavy and expensive.
    You can look on our resident luthiers sites and get an idea what they think.
    Are your German basses machines the wooden hat peg style?
    If so, there are many out there, and if you're lucky, you might be able to match them and get away with buying only one. This, of course, will involve cleaning the old ones up to match the new one or also, dirtying up the new one to help match. Also luthiers have old parts laying around and may be able to match yours.
    By the way, another thread concerning this very subject is right down this page a ways.
  3. flat five

    flat five

    Sep 1, 2004
    Thanks for the reply. I did read all of the search links including the post down below, and Lemur's site, but the information that I could not find was regarding how you decide which tuning machines would make the best replacements. I've only seen references here to the Irving Sloane machines and not any other brands. Maybe there's some other way to search besides the "newbie links" that I don't know about.

    But your comments were helpful - it looks like maybe most people just take it in to the shop and put on whatever the luthier recommends? And appearance and weight are the two main factors? Do some of them work better than others? Is it better to get brass ones, or some other material? I will ask my luthier these questions. On my bass the rod that the string is wound on goes into a round inset wood plug on the other side. At least I now have a better idea of what kinds of questions to ask. Thanks again!
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Jeff Bollbach has some real nice looking and great working machines, check out his website (which you can access from his member page here).
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  6. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Fair warning- I recently was shocked when a Hungarian bass came in with some obvious copies of the Sloane gears. Without my reading glasses they were identical right down to the faux cello peg. With the glasses they were major crude. They worked horribly. I'm not sayin' dese are dose, but I wouldn't be surprized. BTW the gears that Ed mentioned are not available anymore due to machinist costs.
  7. B. Graham

    B. Graham Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I don't think these are those. I never installed them as I'd planned to do, but upon inspection and turning the gears quite a bit, they seem precise and solid.
  8. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  10. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Keep in mind that installing new tuners often involves re-bushing the holes, which are likely too large. This is a job for a luthier or someone with extensive woodworking experience. For a good combination of weight and quality I like the K.C. Strings tuners sold by Anton Krutz; also the Sloans, which are heavier but work great. The Gallery Strings tuners are pretty good, but are dependent on being installed perfectly. If you have "hatpeg" tuners and don't mind them, consider the Rubner replacements with ebony shafts. Lemur sells all the Rubners.
  11. . . .

    With apologies for sidetracking this thread a bit, I've never owned a bass with hatpegs, and Arnold's remark made me curious. Was there originally or is there still any functional purpose for these protrusions? Is there any reason anyone might actually prefer them, let alone "not mind" them ?
  12. I've often wondered myself about hat-pegs. Those Vienese type tuners actually look like cello/violin'viola pegs but have the machines. Just decorative I would gues. The big attraction though according to a couple famous luthiers i've known is the weight. Very light with the wooden shafts, but why add the weight of the protrusions?
  13. You´ll know when you have poked your forehead onto them the first time.

  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I heard that! Yeowtch.
  15. flat five

    flat five

    Sep 1, 2004
    Thanks everyone for all of the helpful information. I now have a much better idea of what this job will cost and what my input to my luthier might be regarding the peg selection.

    I also did not know what a hat-pin style peg was, but I found an article which mentions it. I'm copying a paragraph and attempting to do a link if my computer skills will allow that. Here it is:

    "All four sets of machines are set on brass quarter plates with the cogs held in their respective peg holes by a bridge-type bracket that prevents the cog from slipping out of contact with the worm. This arrangement was later adopted and modified for the construction of the mass-produced German 'blockless wonder' basses which also became known as 'hat-peg' basses because of their protruding soft wood turners (held in position only by simple steel pins). These were stained to give the appearance of being made of the expensive hardwood ebony. All the machines are evenly positioned on the peg-box, suggesting immediately that this instrument was made for four strings. A closer examination of the machines reveals very slight and subtle differences to the D-string mechanism, however, suggesting that the generous length of the peg-box allowed this cog to be conveniently positioned there by Franz at a later date, with no need to reposition the other three."

    Double Bass Article - Bohemian Rhapsody - Anthony Houska examines a Frantisek


    Well that didn't work, but you can get to it from Google if you're interested.
  16. It did work!